Thursday, April 26, 2007

Raja Zarith Sofia

I really admire Raja Zarith Sofia. Baginda anakanda Almarhum Sultan Idris, Sultan Perak b4 Raja Azlan Shah. Masa baginda kahwin dgn TMJ dulu mmg gempak satu Malaysia. Rasanya itu antara perkahwinan kerabat yg penting dlm sejarah. Selapas tu waris sultan yg kahwin dgn kerabat cuma TMP and Tuanku Azizah je.

Aku admire dia bukan setakat dia cantik dan berasal dari Perak (coz aku pun 'cantik' dan berasal dari perak jugak), tapi yg paling penting the way her thinking dan kebijaksanaannya.

Ini one of atricle (maybe from NSTP) yg aku amik from forum.cari. Article ni mmg berkait dgn movie PGL yg Tiara produced.

Raja Zarith Idris September 10:Original article --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The legendary Puteri Gunung Ledang is part of our rich heritage and should not be used to glorify another culture at the expense of our own. RAJA ZARITH IDRIS writes.

MY father used to throw dates and historical anecdotes at me, willing me to catch what he said in mid-air. He told me that I was named after Zaris Gangga from the kingdom of Gangga Negara, which was established in the 11th century at a site where present-day Dinding, Bruas and and Manjung in Perak are. Whether for good or bad, I bear that name still, and hope that my children will name one of their daughters after me one day.

My father also explained why Perak Sultans do not wear mahkota (crowns) at their pertabalan (installation) ceremony.

After the Portuguese captured Malacca in 1511, Sultan Mahmud Shah, the last Sultan of Malacca, established a new court in Johor, and attacked them in 1517, 1520 and 1521. He then sailed to Kampar, in Sumatra, just before he died. An entourage from Perak came to his court and asked for his permission to allow one of his sons to rule Perak. He agreed and commanded his son, Raja Muzaffar Shah, to sail to Perak, and to take with him all the royal regalia that once belonged to Malacca. While sailing to the mouth of the Perak River, Raja Muzaffar Shah's ship became stuck in the mud. Fearing that the ship would capsize because it was too heavy, he tried to lighten it by throwing as many objects overboard as possible. Finally, he threw the mahkota (crown) into the water. By coincidence, the ship then came free and could sail on. When he was made ruler of Perak, Sultan Muzaffar Shah (1528-1549) issued a decree that, from that day on, none of his heirs, when installed as Sultan, could wear a mahkota.

Despite the loss of the mahkota, the rest of the Malacca royal regalia was still in Sultan Muzaffar Shah's possession. This included the Taming Sari kris, which apparently belonged to Hang Tuah, the famed Malacca a warrior. The Taming Sari is tucked into the bengkong (waist sash) of each Sultan of Perak on the day that he is installed as ruler of the state.

For many centuries now, it has been in the safekeeping of successive Sultans. I remember the times my father allowed me to hold the Taming Sari in my hands. On its golden hilt were rubies of a pale pink colour, like faded flowers. A green enamel was painted onto the gold base of the kris. The blade was darkly stained, a mixture of shades of brown, grey and deep red. Were the deep, dark reds on the tip of the blade merely rust or are they the stains of the blood of those who were slain by it? History supports the claim of the Perak royal family as direct descendants of the Malacca Sultanate: "Perak's prestige rose considerably when a new dynasty was established by Sultan Muzaffar Shah, a son of Sultan Mahmud Shah, the last ruler of Melaka...

The founding of Perak also signified a further extension of Melaka's Malay culture, for the reign of Sultan Muzaffar Shah ... brought not only refugee members of the Melaka court, but also its customs and traditions."

Historical events are also noted in one of the most respected pieces of Malay literature, the Sejarah Melayu, which has been attributed to Tun Sri Lanang. It was written not just as a historical account but also "to 'set forth the genealogy of the Malay rajas and the ceremonial of their courts so that this can be heard by (the king's) descendants...' " (A History of Malaysia by Barbara Watson Andaya and Leonard Y. Andaya, 1982, second edition 2001.) When I wrote the children's book, Puteri Gunung Ledang (Penerbit Fajar Bakti, 1995), some journalists who reviewed it wondered if I could begin a revival of literature written by those within palace walls, much in the same way that Tun Sri Lanang, a palace courtier, wrote Sejarah Melayu.

Flattering though the comparison may be, I know that nothing that I have written thus far can be compared to Tun Sri Lanang's Sejarah Melayu, which has stood both the test of time and the scrutiny of scholars. My ability to string more than two sentences together is but like the shadow of a grain of rice compared to the bountiful harvest that was Tun Sri Lanang's gift to Malay literature. My main concern in re-telling Puteri Gunung Ledang was that it should remain as Malaysian as possible. Since Islam is the official religion of Malaysia, and because I, too, am Muslim, I did not want to offend others of my faith and so I depicted the Puteri as wearing baju kurung or baju kebaya. I grew to love the princess I had created in words and pictures. Thus, when the locally-produced film Puteri Gunung Ledang portrays the legendary princess as being part of a royal court from another country, I was crushed. Is it so very awful to portray Puteri Gunung Ledang as Malaysian? Was Puteri Gunung Ledang real? We do not know.

She had been given life by word of mouth, from one family to another, from one generation to the next. The legend of Puteri Gunung Ledang belongs to all Malaysians. Most of us are used to the idea that she was a mysterious woman bred, if not born, in this wonderful land we call our home. Artistic licence allows Puteri Gunung Ledang to assume any identity that her creators have chosen for her, and so in the film of the same name, we are told that she came from the kingdom of Majapahit.

Since she was said to have left Majapahit to be near Hang Tuah during Sultan Mahmud's reign, then it places her at or near the time of the Portuguese conquest of Malacca in 1511. The same artistic licence indeed gives the rest of us endless possibilities as regards her real identity. Perhaps she was a member of Portuguese nobility and bore the name Ana Crisitina Gaminha de Azevedo. Perhaps she was one of the many "treasures" that Admiral Zheng He brought from China. Who knows, she and Mahsuri of Langkawi may be of the same bloodline. The present Johor royal family came into power from the time of Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim (18th ruler of Johor) and is proud of the state's heritage, including its store of legends. What the Johor royal family share with the other royal families of Malaysia is pride in successfully establishing a Malaysian rather than a Javanese identity.

Even though most of us, as part of kerabat diraja (royal lineage), know that our ancestors came from either Sumatra or Java, we also know that we must adapt ourselves to ever-changing sensibilities and sensitivities. The French saying, Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose describes this necessity to change with the times. For example, after the Melaka Sultans became Muslims, the women of the court wore loosely-fitted baju kebaya or baju kurung rather than bare their shoulders and arms the way that their Hindu ancestors did.

Each royal court has its own Adat Istiadat Istana (palace ceremonies). It seems strange then that none of them were asked to contribute details about such ceremonies when the producers of Puteri Gunung Ledang decided to make a film about the legendary princess. It also beggars belief that "research" was done at a kraton (a Javanese word for palace) in Indonesia, away from the Malaysian istana (palaces) of Kedah, Perlis, Trengganu, Kelantan, Selangor, Pahang, Negri Sembilan, Perak and Johor.

If Malaysian istana ceremonies are to be sniffed at, why then is there such great interest every year as to whom will be conferred the title of "Datuk" by the Sultan of each of the nine states? Why does the title carry so much more weight than an "Encik"? The wife of a "Datuk" becomes a "Datin" and this title also accounts for the decisions of some young women to marry unattractive, balding older men.

For the sake of a love triangle that never happened, we are hoodwinked into believing that a legendary princess of whom our grandparents and parents talked about, is not our own. I believe that all of us bear the responsibility to ensure that Malaysian legends, with or without artistic licence, are not used as vehicles for personal fame nor to glorify the ways of another culture at the expense of our own.

I realise that by putting forth my grievances on paper, I make myself the target for those who think that all Malaysians should be proud of its first multi-million ringgit epic movie. If the same blood of the Melaka Sultans flow in my veins, even if it be just a drop, and even if my ancestors, such as Sultan Mahmud Shah, were awful men, let me say that a great love for my heritage and my country means that I must make a stand, regardless of the criticisms. Keranamu Malaysia -- for you, Malaysia, let not our blood nor those of our ancestors either flow or be shed in vain.

* Raja Zarith is the daughter of Almarhum Sultan Idris Shah of Perak (33rd Sultan of Perak). The line of sultans have been unbroken since the death of Sultan Mahmud, the last Sultan of Perak. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Chinese Studies from Oxford University.


Another article

Sunday December 10, 2006
To live without fear
Mind Matters
With RAJA ZARITH IDRIS

ABOUT three weeks ago, I listened to Nilly Abu Arqub, a young Palestinian mother, as she talked about her journey to the hospital prior to the birth of her second child.

The ambulance she was in swerved around Israeli tanks that blocked the roads to the hospital. As she lay in pain, she could see the sky darken with explosions. She heard the heavy shelling around her. What should have been a car ride of not more than 10 minutes dragged on for more than an hour.

This was part of what civilians who lived in Ramallah experienced in 2002, when the Israeli Defence Forces pounded the city because they wanted to destroy Yasser Arafat’s headquarters there.

During our conversation, I told her that in Malaysia, apart from women who lived in remote villages, most of us would be able to have our babies at the hospital. If our car or the ambulance couldn’t get to the hospital in time, it would not be because enemy tanks were blocking the way but because there had been a flash flood, or a storm, and trees had fallen onto the roads.

What Nilly was describing to me wasn’t something that is part of daily life in Malaysia.

When I e-mailed her to ask if I could use her real name and for her to add more details to what she had told me, this was what she wrote:

“... when the Israeli soldiers took Ali, my baby, away from me, he was just a few hours old. I was in the ambulance on my way home. The roads were all full of tanks. The soldiers wanted to check if I held a grenade or something. I needed to get an injection because my blood group is O-negative and it was not available in Alreaieh Hospital where I had my baby, so my doctor told me to go to the Red Crescent hospital. After the soldiers checked Ali, a tank followed the ambulance we were in. At the hospital, I climbed down from the ambulance, holding my son in my arms, and four soldiers followed the nurse and me, to make sure that I was not lying and I really needed my injection...”

I could still hear Nilly’s voice. It kept whirling in my mind like a sad and distant melody when I read about the couple in Kuala Lumpur who had forced their three sons to drink bleaching liquid and to inhale gas, before they tried to take their own lives too. They claimed they were being hounded by loan sharks.

The three boys – Seah Siew Tong, 8, Siew Mun, 10, and Siew Cheung, 12 – died but the parents survived.

It didn’t make sense. I had heard what a woman a world away from here went through, mere hours after giving birth to her baby. Would we value our children’s lives more if we lived in a country where there is armed conflict or if we are faced with hunger and disasters?

Why, for example, do women in the Congo walk for days – because there are no roads and no cars – to get to places of safety, for themselves and for their babies?

Why did the parents in Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Indonesia during the tsunami try so hard not to let go of their children’s hands to prevent them from being swept away?

Is fear in all its different facets the cause as well as the result of human suffering?

The parents of three boys lived in absolute fear of the loan sharks who preyed upon them, so much so that they decided upon the most extreme of actions. In a country not at war, we fear those who look like us and speak our language.

In Palestine, a young mother lived in fear too: of gunfire hitting the ambulance that she and her newborn were travelling in.

In countries where the people are used to armed conflicts, the enemy is easier to detect because they speak a different language, they wear uniforms and they do not conceal their knives or guns behind their backs.

In his statement, MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting said: “Now it is more important to focus on how to educate the public not to repeat such tragedies.”

Part of that education must involve parents not harming their children for whatever reason.

Perhaps the rest of us shouldn’t be so smug and judgmental because we are leading comfortable lives and are not at the mercy of aggressive loan sharks.

My last question to Nilly was: If you can have one dream, what would it be? She replied, “My dream is to go all over the world and ask all decision-makers ‘WHY?’ Give a chance for all the mothers and children all over the world and in Palestine to live without pain, stop our tears. Our children in Palestine and outside Palestine deserve to live, grow, play, learn without any fears...”

I believe that in that one line she said it all.

That’s what we all should wish for when we think of our children: that they be given the chance to live without any fears, whether it be of loan sharks from our own country or armed soldiers from another.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

sayang.....raja zarith tidak pandang hidup dlm kaca mata muslim. do u?

dhill said...

Dear anon,
can u elaborate further..

anti melayu kolot said...

ana tu oirg pAS ;lah atatu melayu asli a.k.a. enjit enjit semut sapa sakit naik atas..kalau orang lebih sikit dari dia, mula x suka .

atau or lain pendapat x serupadia sorang je kaca mata betul islam versi seniri)

maka dia x sukalah